Hope for Brighter Days

Written by Shlomit Ovadia of JCC Denver.

This week, the Israeli-touring band Shufuni impassioned a 100+ person crowd with their moving performances of what life in Israel has been like since October 7, while also touching on universal themes of connection, resiliency, pain, and hope for a brighter future. The stage was shared by four emerging artists: Linor Ein Gedi, Daniel Waiss, Mira Semandoyev, and Rotem Meir Levi, in addition to Leah Garber of the JCCA.

“It’s the easiest way to channel all of our emotions, to hear ourselves and share our hope,” Linor of Kibbutz Miflasim explained. The soul-folk singer delivered a powerful performance of her original lyrics, “don’t let us burn alone, bring them home,” while playing the guitar. “It’s heartbreaking but has also made us more honest and connected with ourselves and others. We keep discovering every day, both on this tour and in Israel, Israelis and Jewish people everywhere are opening their hearts and tuning in.”

“Music is power. I can express myself and my message to the world,” Daniel, a singer and songwriter from Kibbutz Beeri, told the crowd. Having woken up to the loud sound of missiles and heavy nearby gunfire on October 7, Daniel and his girlfriend ran into hiding, hearing a terrorist break into the conjoining apartment as they desperately tried reaching their friends and family through Whatsapp texting groups. “Watching my childhood home go up in black flames like that…you can’t even imagine.” Daniel learned of his father’s murder one week later and his mother’s one month later, the latter of whom was found in Gaza. Daniel still has friends from grade school who are being held captive and prays for their speedy return.

Daniel sang his original, Just as it Was (Mamash Kmo Az), which dreams back to pre-October 7 days, with lyrics, “If only it was possible to travel with you to the heavens, if only it was possible for us all to turn back time.” He followed this performance with a dedication of the famous Israeli song, “I am a Guitar,” to his late father. At the end of the song, which ends with the words “thank you,” Daniel called out to his parents with eyes closed, saying, “Abba, Imma, Todah,” eliciting tears from both performers and audience members alike.

Born and raised in Sderot, Israeli Idol (Kochav Habah) television show finalist Mira shared how, “at first, I was in shock. I didn’t realize it impacted me until one week later…it changes your whole life perspective…but we’re here and we’re still laughing,” she joked, who amidst tears, sang a heartfelt cover of Andra Day’s song, “Rise Up,” with participation from the crowd.

Guitarist, drummer, and music teacher from Sderot, Rotem told guests that “life is too fragile and can turn upside down at any moment. With the time left we should do everything we can to do better and be better.” His lyrics, “Ein li yoter savlanut, ani lo rotze lamut” (I don’t have any more patience, I don’t want to die) carried a deep sadness yet urgent call to action.

The concert concluded with the band members performing an upbeat version of the famous prayer, Song of Ascents (Shir Lama’alot) which was led by Rotem and met with a standing ovation before transitioning into Leah Garber’s Q&A. Prior to departing, everyone united to sing Israel’s national anthem, Hatikva (Hope), paying homage to our cultural optimism, and wishing for a brighter and safer future.